“Perception is reality.”
Some may consider this a clichéd statement, but, truly, these words are immensely applicable to today’s college student.
Although only heading into my fourth semester of college, I have been fortunate to meet many people since arriving on campus in August 2011, including fellow students, professionals, and community members.
Like high school, you will meet individuals with whom you truly connect, others with whom you don’t connect, and people somewhere in between.
My biggest piece of advice is to carefully choose who you surround yourself with. Fair or not, people may develop preconceived notions about you based on what they hear from others. Also, always remain conscious of the way in which you present yourself to others—eyes will be watching. You never know who you may run into; a future employer, potential partner, or even a possible mentor could be waiting.
You very well might be the kindest, most intelligent young man or woman out there, but very few people will recognize or even understand your potential if you choose not to display yourself in a positive manner. The way you dress, how you speak, and your body language are all important characteristics that people notice when they see you.
Being “young and gettin’ it” is no excuse. Unless you’re Meek Mill. But I digress . . .
The truth is, I grew up watching my parents display a level of kindness and professionalism that stuck with me throughout my youth. Their demeanor has shaped my personality and how I view the world today. But let me be clear: by no means am I perfect. As I mentioned, this is something that I continue to work on. However, I remind myself daily that all it takes is remembering the small things.
Last spring, I noticed a quote from Michelle Obama that my academic advisor posted on her door. It puts success in perspective. The first lady shared these remarks while addressing students at the University of Cape Town in 2011:
You have to practice success. Success doesn’t just show up. If you aren’t practicing success today, you won’t wake up in 20 years and be successful, because you won’t have developed the habits of success, which are small things like finishing what you start, putting a lot of effort into everything you do, being on time, treating people well.
A poster of this quote now lies on a wall in my dorm room as a reminder that success is always within reach.